No shower, 1 toilet: Patients slam 'pitiful' hospital ward

CRITICS are calling it the worst hospital ward in Toowoomba.

The renal ward at Toowoomba Hospital, which helps patients with kidney problems, is struggling with overcrowding and outdated equipment, a patient told The Chronicle.

A near 1000% increase over 20 years in the rate of people with type 2 diabetes has strained healthcare providers across Queensland and the Darling Downs has not been immune.

The patient, who asked not to be named as she regularly attends the ward, said there was one toilet servicing up to 50 patients, many of whom need to use it to provide urine samples.

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She also hit out at the ward for having no shower facility and a lack of space for chairs and beds.

"It's the worst ward in Toowoomba and the lack of toilet facilities are pitiful," she said.

Overcrowding forces patients to wait more than an hour for treatment.

The Wilsonton woman, who suffers from a range of medical conditions including kidney failure, incontinence, heart failure, a chronic lung disease, and vision problems, said the ward needed a complete overhaul including more space, toilets and a shower room.

She said staff were doing their best under difficult conditions.

"There are new people coming in all the time, and the problem is only going to get worse.

"We have patients from across the Darling Downs including Goondiwindi, Dalby and Warwick, because their hospitals don't have dialysis machines."

The wife of another patient who hails from Crows Nest, said the ward was often crowded, a sentiment kidney transplant recipient Nev Volker agreed with.

Mr Volke said kidney diseases were becoming more widespread.

Not all kidney diseases are related to diabetes, and Mr Volke's was due to an enlarged prostate. But he agreed the disease was a growing problem and impacting on hospitals.

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Diabetes Queensland estimates 9179 people in the Toowoomba Regional Council area have diabetes.

That's about 5.3% of the local population, which is above the national average of 5% of the population.

Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service, Toowoomba Hospital renal unit nurse unit manager Josie Skewes said, on average, the unit saw between 40 and 45 haemodialysis patients a week.

She said the unit was located in a part of the hospital that was previously used as the emergency department.

"As such, there are challenges in comfortably accommodating the number of renal patients currently accessing services, and there is little room for growth."

The unit was relocated to this part of the hospital in 2000. The Darling Downs Hospital and Health Board has committed $4 million to upgrade and improve renal services at the Toowoomba Hospital.

This includes establishing a five-bed acute haemodialysis facility in the hospital's Medical Unit 2 to provide dialysis to seriously unwell inpatients of the hospital and a refurbishment of the ward to increase ambulatory renal dialysis capacity and amenity for patients and staff.

Planning is currently under way for this project with expected completion in 2017.

The unit has two patient toilets; one of which will soon be closed for works to enable safer and easier access for disabled patients. The toilet is expected to reopen in a couple of weeks.

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